It’s No Good

Kirill Medvedev

Edited and introduced by Keith Gessen

Published 3 June 2015, French paperback with flaps, 278 pages
Translated by Keith Gessen, with Mark Krotov, Cory Merrill and Bela Shayevich

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Before retiring from the literary world and relinquishing all copyright to his work in 2003, Kirill Medvedev had published two collections of poetry with a traditional publishing house. His poems are autobiographical free verse, unusual in Russia, and were dismissed by some critics as not really poetry. Medvedev’s poetry – casual, often explicitly political, irreverent – fiercely diagnose the banality and disease of Putin-era Russia. Edited and introduced by n+1 co-founder Keith Gessen, It’s No Good includes selected poems from Kirill Medvedev’s books of poetry and subsequent online publications, as well as his most significant essays: ‘My Fascism’ (on the failure of post-Soviet Russian liberalism, politically and culturally); ‘Literature Will Be Tested’ (on the attractions and dangers of the ‘new sincerity’ in Russian letters); ‘Dmitry Kuzmin: An Essay-Memoir’ (a detailed memoir and analysis of the work of the 1990s Moscow poet, publisher, and impresario Kuzmin, and what his activity represents). As always, they are published without the author’s permission.

‘Russia’s first authentic post-Soviet writer.’
— Keith Gessen, co-founder of n+1

‘If you want sincere, sophisticated insights into life under Vladimir Putin’s government then read Medvedev. And if you feel adrift from the political direction of your own society then Medvedev’s ability to convert alienation into urgency is inspiring.’
— Max Liu, Independent

‘Archimedes famously said something like, Give me a place to stand, and a long enough lever, and I’ll move the world. Kirill Medvedev and his translators have given American readers another place to stand, a kind of Zuccotti of the mind.’ 
— Garth Risk Hallberg, The Millions

‘Finally, ideology instead of careerism and compromise!… It’s No Good does not give the sense of an artist emerging from politics, but rather the opposite.’
— Chris Cumming, BOMBlog

‘Part of the nightmare world that It’s No Good evokes is one that both Orwell and the members of Pussy Riot would understand. It’s a nightmare of euphemism and cant…. Medvedev is a big personality, on the page and off. He comes across as a shambling holy fool, an unkempt mix of Roberto Benigni and Gary Shteyngart.’
— Dwight Garner, New York Times

‘For a small-press collection of translated poems – a thrice stricken microgenre not used to making news – It’s No Good has received an impressively attentive reception in the United States.’ 
— Robert P. Baird, New Yorker

‘Kirill Medvedev is the most exciting phenomenon in Russian poetry at the beginning of the new century. To be fair, that’s not a compliment. It’s a judgment. You get the sense that Medvedev has no fear, and that this fearlessness costs him nothing. Such things are rarely forgiven.’
— Dmitry Vodennikov

Born in Moscow in 1975, Kirill Medvedev has recently emerged as one of the most exciting, unpredictable voices on the Russian literary scene. Widely published and acclaimed as a poet, he is also is an activist for labor and a member of the Russian Socialist movement Vpered [Forward]. He contributes essays regularly to Chto Delat, and other opposition magazines. His small press, The Free Marxist Press [SMI], has recently released his translations of Pasolini, Eagleton, and Goddard, as well as numerous books at the intersection of literature, art and politics, including a collection of his own essays. It’s No Good is Medvedev’s first book in English.

Keith Gessen was born in Moscow in 1975 and emigrated to the United States with his family in 1981. He is a founder of the literary magazine n+1 and the author of All the Sad Young Literary Men. From Russian he has translated Ludmilla Petrushevskaya and Svetlana Alexievich, and has written about Russian politics and culture for the New Yorker, the London Review of Books, and n+1.